Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations (FIACONA) Pray for a Persecuted Church
 Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations (FIACONA)Pray for a Persecuted Church

Latest News

Christian doctor faces criminal charges in India for saying 'Jesus heals'.

May 31 Christian Post

A young Christian doctor in India’s central state of Madhya Pradesh has been suspended from a government program to help combat the deadly second wave of COVID-19 and is facing criminal charges for telling families to pray to Jesus if they get infected with the virus.
Dr. Sandhya Tiwari was suspended from the Madhya Pradesh state’s “Kill Corona” program and is facing criminal charges, possibly under the state’s anti-conversion law, the U.S.-based persecution watchdog group International Christian Concern reported.
As part of the program, the doctor visited homes in the Bajna area of Ratlam District on May 22 and distributed Christian leaflets along with a recommended diet chart. She also encouraged families to pray to Jesus for healing.
Activists from India’s chief Hindu nationalist umbrella organization, the Rashtriya....

Hindu 'fundamentalists' attack church in India. 

May 28 UCA News

Police in the eastern Indian state of Odisha have filled a first information report after a Hindu group attacked an under-construction church.
The Protestant church in Badaguda village in Koraput district was attacked by more than 150 Hindu “fundamentalists” on May 16, according to Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians.
“As of now, the police are investigating the case and no arrest has been made, but we have full faith in the judiciary and believe that the case will soon be solved,” he said.
“There are 12 tribal Christian families belonging to the Lutheran church and the village has some 60 Hindu families.
“In spite of the challenging situation existing in our country due to the severe attack of Covid-19, goons continue to rule the roost in Koraput district. Even in July last year, an attack on eight Christians....

Yoga guru says COVID-19 is a Christian plot.

May 28 Asian News

In the country most affected by the pandemic today, the top aid of popular yoga guru claimed on twitter that  COVID-19 is “a conspiracy to convert the entire country to Christianity and turn them against yoga and Ayurveda.”
The charge comes from Acharya Balkrishna, chairman of Patanjali, a large company that makes Ayurvedic products, who is also an associate of the hugely popular TV yoga guru Ramdev.
Thanks to the latter’s popularity, Patanjali has become big business. Balkrishna’s net worth is estimated to be around US$ 2.3 billion according to Forbes magazine.
For days, Ramdev's entourage and the Indian Medical Association (IMA) have been at loggerheads over the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicines against the coronavirus, which has not yet been established by any tests.
For Ramdev, COVID-19 “allopathy (convent ..."

Latest News

VIDEO REPORT: Is the Modi government in India Trying to Silence India’s Social Media Users illegally Outside of Any Legal Framework?

May 26 UCA News

Police in India are investigating Twitter after the social media giant tagged a post by a ruling party spokesman as “manipulated media.” Last month the government asked Twitter to take down some 50 tweets critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's handling of the pandemic. And it recently ordered all social media companies to remove references to the term “Indian variant” when describing the B 1617 coronavirus variant prevalent in India. The government said the term was false and amounted to social media misinformation. DW News reports in this YouTube video....

Pastor Contracts COVID-19 after Assault in Eastern India.

May 26 Morningstar News

A pastor in eastern India contracted COVID-19 while seeking treatment at hospitals where personnel were reluctant to admit him for injuries sustained in a Hindu extremist assault last month, sources said.
Pastor Ramnivas Kumar suffered a hairline fracture of his shoulder and internal injuries in the April 22 assault in Pritamadi village, Ranjitpur Shivanagar in Sitamarhi District, Bihar state on him and his wife, Pinky Kumari, which left her unconscious. The Hindu villagers also assaulted the pastor’s uncle, Nagendra Thakur, who along with Kumari sustained head and internal injuries, along with bruising.
The day of the aattack, government hospital personnel initially delayed treating Pastor Kumar, saying they had to wait for police to arrive since it was an assault case.
“We waited for the police to arrive for a long time,” area Christian leader Solomon Ghosh told Morning Star News...'

Catholic Church in India Reports that Covid has already killed 168 of its priests and 143 nuns So Far. 

May 23 Asia News

In India, the pandemic has so far killed 168 priests and 143 nuns. The figure is provided by Father Suresh Mathew, Capuchin friar and editor-in-chief of the Indian Currents magazine. He is keeping the count of the victims of the clergy and religious which continue to grow because the number of deaths in the country remains high: even today the Indian government speaks of 4,209 victims of Covid-19 in the last 24 hours; the country is now very close to the threshold of 300,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.
In this general framework, Fr. Mathew tells AsiaNews about his investigation: “During the first wave, we kept reading details of priests who lost their lives in to the Covid 19, however, during the second wave especially after Easter, every day we received news of priests dying of the Corona virus. Being a Missionary priest, I wanted to know the...

Latest News

Radical Hindu mob wielding swords kills father of Christian pastor in attack on family.

May 23 ChristianPost

While India is going through a deadly second wave of COVID-19, the persecution of Christians carries on. Radical Hindu nationalists shot dead a 52-year-old Christian man, who was the father of a pastor, and wielded swords and sickles to attack other family members, according to a report.
About 15 Hindu nationalist men attacked the family of Pastor Ramesh Bumbariya at his home in the Bansawra District in the northwestern state of Rajasthan on Tuesday, the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern reported, saying the family was attacked because they refused to renounce their Christian faith.
A man in the mob pointed a gun at the pastor to shoot him but it failed to fire. The man then pointed the gun at the pastor’s father, identified as Bhima Bumbariya, and shot the 52-year-old Christian.
After his father ...

Father Swamy refuses hospital: 'I can die in prison'.

May 22 Asia News

Father Stan Swamy refuses hospitalization and invokes the right to release on  bail.  The 84-year-old Indian Jesuit detained in Taloja prison since last October on charges of terrorism for his commitment to the tribal populations, yesterday appeared in person in videoconference in front of the Mumbai High Court convened to assess his health condition.
In recent days - after the denunciation by his family and brother jesuits about the worsening of his physical condition already undermined by Parkinson's disease - Father Swamy had been taken to JJ Hospital, a public hospital in Mumbai, to be examined.  The cough and fever reported by the religious in a telephone interview, had led to fear of his having contracted  Covid-19, as has already happened to other inmates in the Taloja prison.
The High Court would have consented to his admission to the hospital but - during a ...

U.S.-based Christian organization welcomes India extending validity of foreign contribution registration.  

May 20 News IndiaTimes

The Federation of Indian American Christian Associations of North America (FIACONA), an advocacy organization with the goal of  defending the religious freedom of Christian religious minorities in India, welcomed New Delhi’s decision to extend the validity of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) certification to charitable organizations until September 30 2021.  It expired on September 29, 2020.
Another order issued by the government May 20, 2021,  extends the deadline for mandatory opening of a new bank account by these NGOs at a particular branch of the State Bank of India in Delhi, from March 31 2021 to June 30, 2021.
“FIACONA recognizes that these are welcome changes. These measures will help several NGOs to continue their much-needed service during this pandemic at least for one more month,” the organization ...

Latest News

Fr. Stan's life is at risk as he is transferred from prison to hospital.

May 19 Asia News

Jesuit Father Stan Swami, who has been in prison in Taloja since last October on charges of "terrorism" for his work in favour of tribal populations, was transferred overnight to JJ Hospital in Mumbai.
His move was announced by his Jesuit confreres who, on the basis of the serious conditions of the 84-year-old religious, presented a new application for bail that should be discussed later today. The news comes after reports in recent days - following a phone call in which Fr. Swami denounced a bad cough and fever - it had already been speculated that he had contracted Covid-19, which is spreading in the prison.
Frazer Mascarenhas, former director of St Xavier's College, told AsiaNews: "His health is deteriorating very seriously. He has not been subjected to any tests and, despite not feeling well, he was however vaccinated against Covid-19. His health is very fragile and he needs adequate medical assistance....

People in India are smearing cow dung over their bodies to ward off COVID-19 as second wave crisis worsens.

May 18 Business Insider

Doctors in India are warning against the practice of using cow dung to ward off COVID-19. Some believers have been smearing cow dung on their bodies in the hope it will boost their immunity.
Hindus believe cow dung has therapeutic and antiseptic properties.
Doctors in India have urged people not to smear their bodies with cow dung and urine, saying there is no scientific evidence for its effectiveness in warding off the coronavirus, Reuters reported.
As the second COVID-19 wave continues to ravage the country, some believers have been going to cow shelters once a week to cover their bodies in cow dung in the hopes it will boost their immunity, or help them recover from the virus.
Photos of one shelter in the western state of Gujarat show a group of men covering themselves from head to toe with a mixture of cow dung and urine.***...

More than 120 priests die in 2 weeks amid COVID-19 outbreak in India.  

May 18 Christian Post

Father Victor David, parish priest of Our Lady of Happy Voyage in Howrah, India, died from COVID-19 last Thursday at the Mercy Hospital hours after Sister Pranita Rai, principal of St. Teresa’s School in Kidderpore, died from the virus too.
The two missionaries of the Catholic Church died as the faithful were observing the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, according to The Times of India. And as more than 4,000 people die daily from the virus in that country, more than 160 priests have reportedly died in the past five weeks. Some 120 of them died between April 1 and April 15, Father Suresh Mathew, the editor of Indian Currents, told CRUX.
“I wanted to know the extent of the tragedy and the reasons. With journalistic interest, I began compiling the list of priests who died in the second wave (of COVID-19 pandemic in India). I approached the deputy secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’...

PRESS RELEASE

(updated/corrected @ 12 noon)

 

FIACONA Accuses Modi Government of Hampering Relief Efforts of Christian Charities by Mandating More Red Tape:


May 16, 2021, Washington DC. Federation of Indian American Christian Association of North America (FIACONA) accused the Government of India of hampering the efforts of non-governmental agencies (NGOs) in the middle of the pandemic. 


The government of India implemented a set of bureaucratic regulations by amending a 1976 law called Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) last September. Christian charities and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) across India are required to have permission under this 1976 law to receive donations from overseas.

 

The new amendment put in place in the middle of a pandemic last September mandated the charities to open a new bank account at a particular New Delhi branch of the State Bank of India, before March 31, 2021, regardless of where the charity is located or operating from. Additionally, after they open such an account they are required to get additional approval from the Ministry of Home Affairs to operate that new account.

 

Many charities have managed to open this account in New Delhi before the deadline as directed while many others could not. But even those who managed to open the account before the deadline have run into bottlenecks and red tape. Many charities have pointed out that corruption and nuanced procedures are common problems besides the absence of many officials who have not showed up to work due to COVID situation. As a result charities are unable to receive much needed funds to help the suffering  people during this pandemic. 

 

“The current stringent FCRA rules that were put in place by the Government are jeopardizing many donor’s plans to provide equipment like oxygen concentrators and other essential supplies from around the world in providing needed help to hospitals especially in rural areas” said Mr. Koshy George, President of FIACONA.

 

“Unless the Modi Government shows more flexibility towards charitable donations from abroad by suspending some of these bureaucratic provisions of the FCRA, more lives would be lost as a result” Mr. George cautioned.

 

These FCRA regulations were put in place for the purpose of monitoring and controlling Christian and other religious minority charitable and educational institutions as part of the Hindu nationalist agenda to minimize their appeal and reduce their influence on the society at-large. 

 

Other secular NGOs who would not toe the government line also paid a price. 

 

However, NGOs affiliated with Hindu nationalist groups continue to collect money from unsuspecting donors in Western Countries and channel them mostly towards sectarian work without any hindrance from authorities.

 

FIACONA appeals to the Indian Government to suspend these rules that created the current impediments and submit them later for a panel review to ease the restrictions on a permanent basis so that the needy will not suffer in a future crisis. 

 

For Media enquiries please email press@fiacona.org

 

Latest News

Coronavirus: India records 311,170 new cases, 4,077 deaths in a day.

May 16, Scroll.in

The number of active cases stood at 36,18,458, while the recoveries climb to 2,07,95,335.
India registered 3,11,170 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, pushing the country’s tally of infections since the pandemic began to 2,46,84,077. The toll rose by 4,077 to 2,70,284.
Globally, the coronavirus has now infected 16.22 crore people and killed over 33.65 lakh since the pandemic broke out in December 2019, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The national helpline number is 011-23978046, and the toll-free number is 1075...

Why the Modi Government's 'Positivity' Narrative on COVID-19 Vaccination Plan Doesn’t Add Up.

May 16 The Wire

Graphs and charts released by the government this week made bombastic claims and projections that don't stand up to serious scrutiny.
If the Government of India is to be believed, Indians have much to celebrate – and be positive about – these days. That sounds good, until you scratch at the surface of the its claims.
“Celebrate the power of positivity and the strengths of 130 crore Indians” – Prime Minister Narendra Modi exhorted in a tweet. There should be “better communication” of the government’s “positive” work – so went the message to officials of the Government of India (GoI) during an official workshop. Counter the “one-sided narrative” against India in the global media, Indian embassies and high commissions were instructed by the minister for external affairs....

Modi govt Refuses to Reveal Why Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) Was Amended, Even as Changes Impair NGOs’ COVID Aid Efforts

May 16, The Wire

Even as non-government organisations (NGOs) face severe fund shortages due to changes in the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) effected by the Centre last year – which has adversely impacted their ability to reach out to the poor and marginalised in both rural and urban areas during the second wave of the coronavirus in India – the Centre has repeatedly thwarted attempts by Right to Information (RTI) activists to access details surrounding the reasons why the Act was amended.
The Wire had last year reported that leading NGOs believed that changes to the FCRA would deal a crushing blow to the voluntary sector and impact its ability to collaborate and conduct research.
They argued that the changes effected ...

Latest News

Indian Generals Blast Government for Withholding Life-Saving Army Aid From Its Own People.

May 14 The Daily Beast

With India ravaged by an unprecedented second wave of the COVID-19 virus—and its health-care system on its knees—some public health and former military officials are voicing outrage over the government’s apparent refusal to use the full force of the army to assist with the crisis.
“The army is not being utilized to the fullest extent,” even though it has “tremendous capacities” to ease the current disaster, Deependra Singh Hooda, former chief of the Indian army’s strategic northern command, told The Daily Beast.
For weeks experts have been pleading with the government, urging it to rope in the military to help with a health crisis never before seen in India’s modern history.
Earlier this month, the deputy chief minister of the country’s capital, Delhi—which is facing the worst COVID ...

The bodies of suspected COVID-19 victims turning up in River Ganges.

May 13 The Week 

The bodies of suspected COVID-19 victims are turning up in Indian rivers
The bodies of suspected COVID-19 victims continue to wash up in rivers across India, and many believe the corpses are being dumped due to overrun crematoriums and scarce and expensive firewood.
In the state of Bihar, 70 bodies were found floating in the Ganges River, with dozens more discovered upstream in the neighboring state of Uttar Pradesh; a net has since been placed in the river near the border to keep bodies from going downstream, The Guardian reports. In Madhya Pradesh state, bodies have been found in the Runj River, a source of water for villagers and livestock. Officials will take DNA samples from all of the bodies before burying them in a mass grave.
India is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases, with rural areas increasingly...

A recently-imposed law in India is preventing local charities from accessing foreign donations, as the country keeps struggling with COVID-19.

May 13 Business Insider

India is struggling to bring its rampant COVID-19 outbreak under control.
Around the world people and companies have donated oxygen and PPE, and millions of dollars.
But a law is stopping charities from distributing aid to smaller groups, making it hard to reach those in need.
See more stories on Insider's business page.
Donations to help India fight its raging COVID-19 outbreak are flooding in from around the world, but a new law is preventing many nonprofits from using the money effectively.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government passed an amendment to the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act last September. The amendment effectively prevents local NGOs from redistributing donations to smaller aid groups.
India is currently ...

STATEMENT

 

FIACONA WELCOMES THE THE ANNUAL REPORT FROM STATE DEPARTMENT

(In favor of publishing)

 

May 12, 2021, Washington, DC. The Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations (FIACONA) welcomes the Annual Religious Freedom Report released today by the State Department. 

 

According to the US State Department, “ there were reports of religiously motivated killings, assaults, riots, discrimination, vandalism, and actions restricting the right of individuals to practice and speak about their religious beliefs.”.

 

The number of incidents hindering the rights of the people to believe and practice their faiths have gone up several times in many parts of India for the reporting period.

 

The fact that India prides herself as a democratic state makes it even more critical for her to behave like one respecting the fundamental rights of every citizen and not undermine any sections of the society.

 

The President of FIACONA Mr. Koshy George said, “I am worried that the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities continues even during the Coronavirus lockdown and Prime Minister Modi’s silence on these critical issues is very disheartening. ”

 

He also said, “Thousands of NGOs have their hands tied from providing relief for millions of people suffering from COVID 19 infections in India, because of lack of funds after the government of India restricted the flow of funds to thousands of Christian charities”.

 

Mr. John Prabhudoss, the Chairman of FIACONA pointed out that despite holding elections, India has become an "autocracy". India is a democracy only on the paper. Unfortunately, a substantial percentage of the population seems to approve of the direction in which the country is headed", he said.

 

It is becoming more and more common knowledge that non-state actors like the militias affiliated with Mr. Modi’s BJP government are increasingly violent in the past few years. Many of these non-state actors are also well represented in the government at both state and national levels. 

 

FIACONA strongly recommends that the US government must stop shying away from taking the lead in sanctioning non-state actors and specific individuals in India who advocate and/or perpetrate violent acts against Christian and other religious minorities.

 

FIACONA urges President Biden to validate the finding of this report on India and accept the recommendations put forward by USCIRF when such sanctions could still be useful instead of waiting until the situation deteriorates further in India. 

 

It is time for the US and the world to understand the serious threat posed by the Hindu nationalist movement to stability and security in the region.

 

The United States and the International community must understand that only an equitable, peaceful, and progressive society that is not affected by internal civil unrest could truly become a productive partner in trade and security. A religiously volatile and socially disturbed society within India will be detrimental to the interest of the international community not just in South Asia but across the Indian Ocean Corridor and beyond.

 

FIACONA asks the International governments, especially the industrialized nations to tread cautiously in endorsing or encouraging Hindu nationalist forces in India. 

 

FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES PLEASE CONTACT
JOHN PRABHUDOSS: JOHN@FIACONA.ORG
KOSHY GEORGE: PRESIDENT@FIACONA.ORG

 

YOU COULD ACCESS THE STATE DEPARTMENT'S  REPORT ON INDIA  HERE

STATEMENT

 

FIACONA SUPPORTS THE USCIRF AND ITS COMMITMENT TO THE CAUSE OF 

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN INDIA DESPITE CHALLENGES:

(In favor of publishing)

 

 

May 10, 2021. Washington DC. The Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations (FIACONA) greatly appreciates the work of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). FIACONA recognizes and applauds the commitment of the Commissioners and the professional staff to the cause of Religious Freedom around the world despite pressure from various quarters and at times from within. 

 

The work of USCIRF is particularly important in India, as the governance and the justice systems there have often failed to defend the rights of Christians. Confirmed reports indicate that police are also joining in mob violence against Christians lately in many parts of India. In many instances, the courts have blatantly favored the attackers instead of Christian victims. (The case against Pastor Manu Damor and his wife is the most recent confirmed example of such an incident where the Pastor was arrested on April 4th and remains in jail as of May 4th for holding an Easter Sunday worship for Christian families in the Indore district of the Central Indian state of Madya Pradesh).

 

Anti-conversion laws, passed by many BJP ruled states have been weaponized to attack Christians rather than dissuading fraudulent conversions. At the same time, forced Ghar Wapsi, or “homecoming/re-conversion,” ceremonies of Christians to Hinduism are becoming a common occurrence with the apparent approval of the BJP governments across India. India’s Christians have become victims of religiously motivated violence in the hands of vigilante mobs that are supported and encouraged by the members of the ruling BJP. 

 

In the face of such difficulties, the work of USCIRF becomes immensely important. It is vital for USCIRF to speak with one voice and highlight the sufferings of Christian populations in vulnerable parts of the world particularly in India as India is evolving into an ‘elected autocracy’ far from being a parliamentary democracy.

 

FIACONA appreciates the USCIRF’s commitment and solidarity with the Church in India in the face of growing pressure. The majority of the Commissioners have shown great resistance to pressure from Hindu nationalists and their proxies. We applaud their resolve to stand in solidarity with the Indian Church at the hour of their need.

 

FIACONA congratulates Ms. Anurima Bhargava on her appointment as chair of this important Commission. We pray that she will have the strength and wisdom to lead the Commission effectively in the right direction.

FIACONA demands the resignation of Commissioners Johnnie Moore and Gary Bauer from USCIRF for their stand against the Christian victims of religious violence in India.

 

You could find the copies of the letters demanding their resignation here.

 

Gary Bauer.

Johnnie Moore.

STATEMENT

FIACONA WELCOMES THE USCIRF DESIGNATION OF INDIA AS A COUNTRY OF PARTICULAR CONCERN:

 

April 21, 2021. Washington DC. The Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations applauds the designation of India as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today in Washington.

 

India has been going through tumultuous upheavals caused by the rise of Hindu nationalism in recent years. The formation of a national government by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2014 under Mr. Narendra Modi has seriously jeopardized the fundamental constitutional rights of a vast majority of Christians and other religious minorities in modern India.

 

The Hindu nationalist cadre are given unofficial protection from the Administration for their vigilantism against the Christian population. Meanwhile, India based organizations have reported that the attacks on churches and prayer meetings have dramatically gone up from even last year.

 

The justice system has often failed to defend the rights of persecuted Christians and other minority religions. Police have joined in mob violence against Christians, filed reports against the victims, and courts have given favor to the attackers.

 

Anti-conversion laws, rather than dissuading “fraudulent conversions” have been weaponized in several states to stop conversions of any kind. At the same time Ghar Wapsi, or “homecoming,” ceremonies of forceful conversion to Hinduism are applauded.

 

Incidents of anti-Christian violence rose from 147 in 2014, when Mr. Modi became prime minister, to 328 in 2019. India’s Christians suffered “225 incidents of religiously motivated violence” in just the first ten months of 2020, many at the hands of vigilante mobs. 

 

During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Christians in rural areas faced more opposition than ever as a result of their faith. According to Open Doors, Christians now face “economic problems as well as the opposition and hatred from the community.”

 

Additionally, Christians in India have been denied emergency COVID relief: some being told that “your church or your God should feed you”. Reportedly, more than 80,000 Christians were turned away from official government food distribution points, and had to seek aid elsewhere.

 

With all of these considerations in mind, FIACONA whole-heartedly agrees with USCIRF in their decision to continue the designation of India as a CPC for the year 2021.

 

As far as the Commissioner who disagrees with the majority decision on recommending India as a CPC, he has not only violated the mandate he has been given to study and report incidents of violence against a people of particular religious faith in a country but he has also agreed with the aggressors who are determined to hurt the 2000 year old church in India. So, we recommend that he floats once again down the Ganges to reflect on his monumental error in judgement and resign from the Commission.

 

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